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Omnia Represents ICJ and CORE In Significant Business & Human Rights Proceedings At The UK Supreme Court

Omnia is proud to have represented the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Corporate Responsibility Coalition (CORE) in UK Supreme Court proceedings that concluded today. Vedanta Resources Plc and Konkola Copper Mines Plc are defending a legal action brought by more than 1,800 Zambian individuals who say Vedanta, a UK-based company, is responsible for the pollution of a river in Zambia used for drinking and bathing, as well as for irrigation and care of livestock, causing sickness and lost crops. This week’s hearing addressed the question whether the case can be heard by the UK Courts.

The submission by the ICJ and CORE argued that the Court of Appeal’s ruling that Vedanta at least arguably owed the Claimants a duty of care is supported by international Business and Human Rights standards, material published by the UK Government to implement those standards, and comparable legal rulings from other jurisdictions.

The Supreme Court referred favourably to our clients’ submission, Lord Justice Wilson observing that it “set out the general direction of travel” toward recognising such claims at an international and comparative level. Citing a specific part of the submission regarding relevant obligations of States parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Wilson LJ went on to ask counsel for Vedanta, “as an organ of the State, is the court not obliged to consider these matters in deciding how far the law should go?”

A statement by ICJ is available here. A statement CORE, together with a copy of the joint submissions, is available here.

The legal team, acting pro bono, was pleased to assist ICJ and CORE with its successful application to intervene in the case and with its written submissions.

The Omnia team was led by Cherie Blair CBE, QC, assisted by Gabrielle Holly and Adam Smith-Anthony. Omnia were pleased to work alongside counsel: Tim Otty QC, Tim Johnston, Professor Robert McCorquodale and George Molyneaux. Omnia and counsel acted pro bono.

Further information on the case, including the Court of Appeal judgment under appeal, is available here.